Nov. 2, 2003 Postal officials in the Virgin Islands will soon huddle with their counterparts in San Juan to discuss recent changes in letter routing. Lawmakers at both the local level and on Capitol Hill have begun to hear from constituents annoyed at delays in their mail deliveries.
V.I. Postmaster Louis Jackson declined comment when asked about a planned 72,000 man-hours reduction for postal employees in the territory. He termed the situation serious but said he didn't want to say any more prior to meeting with Roberto Perez de Leon, the manager and CEO of the postal service's Caribbean region, later this month.
Delegate Donna Christensen wrote about the pending changes in a letter to U.S.P.S. officials last week, asking how the Virgin Islands, with a much smaller population than neighboring Puerto Rico, could be expected to absorb 72,000 of the 250,000 planned man-hour cuts slated to take effect in the region.
The changes are part of the postal services' Transformation Plan. In a speech on May 29, U.S. Postmaster General John E. Potter said an unprecedented 3 billion fewer pieces of mail have passed through the system over the last two years. Other postal experts concur, saying revenues have fallen sharply.
Potter said that if the postal service is to remain viable, reductions are unavoidable. He predicted that facility consolidations would meet with some public resistance."These changes are necessary to continue to deliver highly reliable service at affordable rates in the future," he said.
Among the first V.I. residents to notice the difference were pensioners and recipients of Social Security checks whose payments recently began showing up late.
"I assume there must have been some budgetary considerations in this decision," Sen. Lorraine Berry wrote Perez de Leon late last month, "but I feel that the unfair treatment to the patrons of the Virgin Islands far outweighs whatever savings might be realized."
Berry told Perez deLeon it seemed awkward and time-consuming to send intra-territory mail to Puerto Rico to be processed and sorted before sending it back to the V.I. for distribution. The change has left her constituents frustrated, she said, and added that her office has been inundated with complaints.
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